Friday, January 28, 2011

Champion Jack Dupree - Blues From the Gutter (Atlantic, 1958)

Blues singer and pianist lived a fascinating life (someone really should cobble together a biography) and this may be his best known LP. Cut with a wonderful band under perfect conditions for Atlantic, the music is a rare combination of fascinating and wry lyrics (about some pretty heavy topics) and just spot-on playing. He does cover the traditional blues themes of troubles with money and women on "Evil Woman" and "Bad Blood" but things go "way down in the alley" as B.B. King would say on songs that deal with the dark side of life. Addiction and its consequences are unflinchingly discussed on "Junker's Blues" and "Can't Kick the Habit" which are frank and non-nonsense in their descriptions of drug use and abuse. These songs go hand in hand with the well known blues classic "Goin' Down Slow" in which Dupree describes the narrator's descent in harrowing detail. He ends the album with a few well known traditional songs, the murder ballad "Frankie and Johnnie," taken at a jaunty pace despite the subject matter, and the classic American folkloric take of gambling gone wrong, "Stack-O-Lee." He invests these time worn tales with all of the integrity that he brings to his original material, and from start to finish this album is just a clinic on how to play the blues with a depth of feeling rarely matched. A classic not to be missed on any account. Blues From The Gutter -

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